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Detroit Digital Justice Coalition To Hold Weekend Technology Education Workshops

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Whether you think you're technologically illiterate or a computer whiz kid, the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition is looking to teach you something new this weekend.

A Saturday presentation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit will offer a discussion of access to technology, followed by a Sunday workshop DDJC is hosting to apply those lessons.

The Sunday "Discotech" (Discovering Technology) workshop at Mt. Elliott Makerspace at the Church of the Messiah on the city's east side will take a hands-on approach, teaching everything from building a computer to creating a Twitter account.

"The intent of the [Sunday] event is to break down the barriers that keep people from thinking they can access technology," said Nina Bianchi, one of the organizers, "and to make it fun and bring it into a community setting."

Participants will address electronics, Internet, community, media and public policy at 17 workstations. At consultation stations, they can learn about different communication tools, like email and social networks. Still other stations will teach things like using alternative energy or building computers from recycled parts.

As part of DDJC's mission to promote access to communication, the group will also offer several screenings of the short documentary "The Internet is Serious Business," which investigates the workings of the Internet and the politics involved.

"The freedoms we think we enjoy on the Internet are being challenged on a regular basis," Bianchi said. "The awareness around these issues falls a bit to the wayside."

To challenge that idea, the technology empowerment collaborative will take part in a preview discussion on Saturday at MOCAD to explain what can be done with tech knowledge.

"Initiate" will show what is possible when artists and activists learn and engage with technology. Featured presenter openFrameworks will discuss its open-source toolkit for computer coding. Other presenters, including locals and out-of-towners who work with Allied Media, OmniCorp, Broken City Lab, Earthworks Urban Farm, SWAMP, Open Graffiti Lab, Assocriation will speak about using technology as an artistic and creative tool to empower communities and fuel social change. The night will also include music.

Bianchi called the MOCAD event a "menagerie of awesome information."

Ben Hernandez, MOCAD's curator of public programs, added that the discussion at MOCAD would set the stage for DDJC's future work, including Sunday's workshop.

"One is going to be contextualizing presentations and discussions about what people are doing with technology to effect societal change," Hernandez said.

"'[Technology is] not some sort of exclusive space," Bianchi said. "It's something that everyone can work with and play with and create."

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